On Monday, the US Government announced that it would be opening up its borders for international travelers starting early November, under the condition that they are vaccinated. “This vaccination requirement deploys the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus,” explained White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. “Vaccines continue to show that they’re highly effective, including against the delta variant, and the new system allows us to implement strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” Travelers will require a vaccination certificate as well as a negative COVID-19 test report not more than 72 hours old. The quarantine mandate has been removed.
Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mr. Subramanian said on Sunday that Coimbatore had the highest rate of vaccination of eligible people against COVID-19. Out of 29,27,149 citizens, 75% had received their first dose, while 25% had been fully inoculated. “The number of daily cases are close to 200 in Coimbatore district. Though the Kerala government is taking special efforts to combat the disease, the State has been registering cases between 20,000 and 30,000 for the last one month. As people move between Kerala and Tamil Nadu for trade, jobs and education, we have taken steps to reduce disease spread,” he said. 2 oxygen generators were also installed at the Government Headquarters Hospital in Pollachi.
A large-scale project pertaining to in-depth genome sequencing of samples from COVID-19 patients in 4 big cities is set to begin today. Bengaluru, New Delhi, Hyderabad, and Pune are the four chosen cities. Scientists involved in the project say it will help deliver insights to municipal authorities on how the novel coronavirus is evolving. 8 national labs will sequence over 60,00 samples in 12 months, but will go on for 3 years. The project has been endowed with 70 crore in funding by the Rockefeller foundation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has suspended the approval process of the Russian-made Sputnik V vaccine over ‘manufacturing concerns’. “While inspecting one of the plants where the vaccine is manufactured, they found that this plant was not in agreement with the new best practices of manufacturing,” said WHO Assistant Director Jarbas Barbosa on Wednesday. Russia applied for Emergency Use Listing (EUL) for Sputnik V in Febuary, and is still waiting for approval. The Lancet Medical Journal has stated that the vaccine has 91.6% efficacy.
Moderna Inc’s (MRNA.O) large Covid-19 vaccine trial reveals new data that the protection offered by the COVID-19 vaccine reduces over time. This supports the case for a third “booster dose”, the company said on Wednesday. “This is only one estimate, but we do believe this means as you look toward the fall and winter, at minimum we expect the estimated impact of waning immunity would be 600,000 additional cases of COVID-19,” said Moderna President Stephen Hoge to investors. Wednesday’s report showed higher rates of infection among people vaccinated 13 months ago versus people vaccinated eight months ago. However, it is yet to undergo peer review.
India has logged 25,404 fresh cases of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which is a 6.8% decrease from yesterday. 339 deaths were recorded, bringing the total death count to 4,43,213. The top 5 contributors to the caseload were Kerala (15,058 cases), followed by Maharashtra (2,740 cases), Tamil Nadu (1,580 cases), Mizoram (1,502 cases), and Andhra Pradesh (864 cases). Kerala alone was responsible for 59.27% of new cases. The country’s recovery rate now stands at 97. 58%. However, vaccination rates have also been steady across the states, with a total of 78,66,950 doses being administered in the last 24 hours.
The delta variant of the coronavirus has battered through several countries; the United States has witnessed at least 100,000 cases every day in the last few weeks. As of Monday, the seven-day-average of daily cases was 172,000. Experts posit that the current delta wave may soon see its peak, however they also warn that complacency is out of the question. Bhakti Hansoti, an associate professor in emergency medicine at John Hopkins University and expert in COVID-19 critical care, told news sources that the US may follow a similar path to India, in that the virus may become endemic to the country. To keep infections at bay and prevent a further rise, extensive vaccination of citizens stands as a key factor.
On Monday, India logged 27,254 new cases of COVID-19, and 219 deaths. The country’s active caseload now stands at 3,74,269, a 4.7% reduction from yesterday. The maximum number of casualties came from Kerala (67) and Maharashtra (46). The top 5 contributing states are Kerala at 20,240 new cases, Tamil Nadu with 1,608 cases, Andhra Pradesh with 1,190 cases, Karnataka with 803 cases and West Bengal with 751 cases. Kerala contributed to 74.26% of total infections. India’s recovery rate now stands at 97.54%. Though India’s vaccination rate has been exceptional, experts worry that overcrowding during the upcoming festival season may cause a spike in infections.
Professor Gyaneshwer Chaubey, a geneticist at Banaras Hindu University, has posited that the third wave of COVID-19 would be likely to hit around December. He also added that vaccinated individuals, or those who already had the disease would be safe from infection. Ongoing vaccination drives would help boost immunity rates among the citizens. “As the levels of antibodies drop every three months, the chances of the third wave are likely. In this sense, if the level of antibodies falls in the next three months, then a third wave can come. But the ongoing vaccination campaign will help in the fight against the virus. If our immunity is more than 70%, the effect of COVID-19 in that group will be less, and gradually, its frequency will start decreasing. This is what we have to see,” he told sources.
The Kerala government is currently conducting a Seroprevalance study to assess the rapid spread of the virus in the state. Health Minister Veena George began the study in the beginning of the month, and will be completed by the end of September. Regarding the Nipah virus, she said all the samples tested till date have turned out to be negative. “Source tracing is equally important as that of the contact tracing. A special team from the National Institute of Virology is already collecting samples from the state to identify the source of the spread of the virus infection,” George said.